Coronavirus - COVID19: Service information
At First Bus, your safety is our top priority. In the wake of the evolving impacts of coronavirus, we are working with the Government and wider industry to ensure we are following the latest advice to keep you safe on our buses.
Please bookmark this page for the latest updates. We are monitoring services and making adjustments where necessary.
There are currently no restrictions on passenger type and everyone is welcome on our buses if they follow government and First Bus guidance, and they are not feeling unwell. Anyone who is suffering from coronavirus symptoms including a persistent cough or high temperature, should not travel, and should follow public health guidelines.
With operators and customers working together we will provide a bus network, for those who need it, that is safe and allows everyone to complete their necessary journeys.
From Wednesday 2nd December 2020, Essex will be placed in Tier 2 restrictions, however First Essex bus services and safety measures will remain the same.
Please check the website regularly for any updates.
Please try to plan your journey in advance, travelling at quieter times if you can. Purchase tickets via the First Bus App or Contactless where possible (if using cash, please use the exact change). Wear a face covering (unless exempt), sit away from other passengers, keep windows open and wash your hands before/after travelling.
Let’s look after each other.
Supporting the national effort with the NHS Test & Trace App:
We would like to encourage all passengers travelling with us to download the NHS Covid-19 Track and Trace app. Anyone aged 16 or over who lives in England or Wales can use the app. The app allows you to report symptoms, order a Coronavirus test and check into venues.
How do I access them?
Both of these apps are designed to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of coronavirus.
The England and Wales NHS COVID-19 app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.
To improve punctuality, the following changes will be implemented from 29th November 2020:
- The 14:30 outbound journey from Basildon will now have more running time, (an extra 7 minutes added), arriving at Brentwood at 15:45
- The 15:45 inbound journey from Brentwood will depart 10 minutes later at 15:55, but the running time has been reduced slightly as well so it will arrive back to Basildon at 17:10 (instead of the current 17:04)
- The 17:10 journey from Basildon will depart at 17:20, scheduled to arrive at Brentwood at 18:25
- The 18:30 journey from Brentwood will depart at 18:35, arriving at Basildon at 19:38
- The 17:40 from Basildon will operate 10 minutes later, departing at 17:50, and the 19:00 from Brentwood will operate 5 minutes later at 19:05
Making School Travel Safe
We are still operating our normal local bus network with restricted seating capacity of 50%. Several additional journeys have been added to the network at the busiest times.
In addition to this and as a temporary measure, specific services that we operate on schooldays and which carry only a very small number of the general public, are being re-designated as ‘school children’ only services. There are different government guidelines for those services carrying specifically only school children aged 18 and under. These journeys for school children are in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Department for Transport for dedicated school bus journeys and can operate to almost their normal seating capacity, with no social distancing required. Although we strongly recommend and encourage students using these services to wear a face covering (unless they have an exemption), it is not mandatory.
Do bus passengers need to wear a face mask/covering to get on your buses?
In England and Scotland it is mandatory to wear a face covering on Public Transport unless you have an exemption. Failure to do so may result in a fixed penalty notice of £100. To see the government guidance on face covering exemptions please follow this link ⇒
- Please remember to bring a face covering or mask for your journey, it needs to fit well and cover your mouth and nose.
- Put your face covering on before boarding the bus.
- If you have an exemption and you are unable to wear a face covering please be prepared to inform the driver or show an Extra help to travel card (Journey assistance card).
Please see here for more details ⇒
To see the government guidance on face covering exemptions please follow this link ⇒
- Please take your face covering with you at the end of your journey.
Will the driver refuse to let me on if I’m not wearing a face mask/covering?
It is your legal responsibility to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport unless you have an exemption. The driver cannot enforce this but you may be liable to a fixed penalty notice of £100 if you refuse.
Who is exempt from wearing a face covering?
Exemptions for the use of face coverings will apply to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.
Why are your drivers not wearing a face mask/covering?
Our drivers have face masks but may not be wearing a face covering or mask while driving as this can be distracting. And for those who wear glasses there is a risk these get steamed up while driving. The cab has a protective screen to separate the driver and passengers.
Why is my driver wearing a mask when they help vulnerable people?
Our drivers have to leave their cab when helping vulnerable customers and so are following the advice to wear a face covering as they are now in an open area of the bus and briefly in closer contact with the passenger.
Will key workers get priority boarding?
No, but we have made changes to prioritise our service network around the needs of key workers and we are asking other customers to consider ways to travel before using public transport at this time and be aware of those who may have a priority need to use the bus.
Will I need to leave extra time for travel
Passengers should follow Government guidance and leave extra time for their journeys. You should consider walking, cycling and all other forms of transport before using public transport at this time. To help with this we are asking our customers to only travel if your journey is necessary.
Is the driver responsible for managing social distancing measures?
Our drivers will advise customers wherever possible but they cannot enforce social distancing measures.
Please note the seating measures we have introduced are advisory for customers and we will not be asking our drivers to enforce them or leave their cab area, unless operating the manual bus ramp. Our driver will help advise customers when boarding where seats are available.
What additional cleaning is taking place?
Our buses are comprehensively cleaned every night by our expert team of cleaners, including regular disinfection of all grab rails and poles, entrance door handles, window ledges and other touchpoints. We are now also using a sanitising treatment (Zoono Z71) on our buses and in depots. It is environmentally-friendly, uses no alcohol or dangerous chemicals, and is proven to be a highly effective antimicrobial surface sanitiser.
Will you be providing face masks or hand sanitiser for passengers?
No, customers should use their own sanitiser and face covering.
Please see the government advice on using and making a face covering:
What steps is First Bus taking to maximise social distancing, at stops and on board?
With the latest version of the First Bus App you can now track your bus live on a map and it also displays how many seats are available on each bus.
Following the on-bus safety measures that have been implemented, we are starting to increase available capacity on our buses. Please note that the app may take a few days to update.
In addition, you will also see further measures in place to help you to adhere to social distancing guidelines. These include:
- Capacity signs by the entrance of each bus
- Seat signs and tape to clearly show where you should/shouldn’t sit to maintain a safe distance
- Reminders to be considerate of other passengers
- No longer allowing standing
What should passengers do to socially distance, at stops and on board the bus?
- Plan your travel in advance, avoiding peak periods
- Please observe social distancing on-bus and at bus stops where possible
- Wear a face covering when on board (unless you meet the exemption criteria set by the government)
- On our double deckers, consider sitting upstairs (if you are able)
- Pay with contactless (up to £45) or purchasing your ticket in advance on our First Bus App
- Use the correct change if you must pay by cash
- No eating or drinking while on board
- Leave windows open to aid ventilation
Will I be able to get a pushchair on board?
We are asking customers with a pushchair or buggy to consider the travel needs of vulnerable passengers and those in a wheelchair or with restricted mobility. This may mean that you have to leave extra time or wait to complete your journey.
Will I be able to get a wheelchair on board?
We are asking customers to consider the travel needs of vulnerable passengers and those in a wheelchair and will do all we can to prioritise access to the wheelchair space for a wheelchair user.
Safety Measures on First Buses
|Please watch our videos for information and advice for travelling on the bus during the coronavirus situation:|
|Travel safely on our buses: Video ⇒|
|Face coverings: Video ⇒|
|First Bus App: Know where your bus is and how many seats are available: Video ⇒|
Which First Bus ticket offices and customer service centres are open and which are closed?
The Colchester and Chelmsford Travel Centres remain closed. For customer service enquiries you can call us on 0345 646 0707. Our lines are open from 9am to 5pm Mon-Fri. Our quieter times are usually between 11am and 3pm so you may prefer to call then as there will be less of a wait to speak to one of our Customer Support Agents.
If you prefer, you can fill out the contact form here instead ⇒ We will get back to you as soon as we can but please be aware that for lost property enquiries our response time is usually within 3 working days for all other enquiries this could take up to 14 days.
What happens if my travel plans change or I am unable to travel due to this infection, will you refund me?
Certain pre-paid tickets allow full flexibility of use and for some, such as single tickets on our m-ticket App, we have extended the expiry to allow customers more time.
Our general Terms and Conditions still apply but we will look at each customer’s situation. The best way to contact us to talk about your ticket or change to travel plans is set out below – rest assured we’ll look into your enquiry and come back to you as soon as we can.
- For mobile tickets (mTickets) bought in our app, please email our mTicket support team email@example.com. Please include the mobile number and email address associated with your mTicket account . Alternatively, please call us on 0330 094 7577.
- For subscription tickets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the email address and telephone number associated with your subscription.
- For tickets you’ve bought on our website to print at home (eTickets, e.g. airport services), please call:
0345 646 0707 and select option 2 then option 2 or complete a contact us form.
- For all paper tickets, please call 0345 646 0707 and select option 2 then option 3 or email us at: SSC-TicketEnquiries@firstgroup.com
We’re absolutely committed to being there for our customers and you can contact us by phone on 0345 646 0707 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday and we're available on Twitter 7am until 7pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-5pm weekends and bank holidays. Please see our Help and Support page for contact details.